Is it possible to walk simultaneously in the FRUIT and GIFTS of the Holy Spirit, yet remember that the FRUIT are the sign of a vital relationship with God by His Holy Spirit, and not the Gifts? It seems to me, as one who has experienced and walks in a number of the gifts, that to elevate the gifts (tongues, prophecy, etc) of the Spirit above that of the fruit (peace, kindness, etc) of God’s Spirit is much like a husband bragging about the birthday card he received from his wife, whom everyone knows – including himself – is cheating on him. Yeah – pretty silly. Here’s an idea – next time we throw around the word “Spirit Filled”, let’s be sure the evidence is there – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, & self-control. The Bible – Corinthians in particular – is quite clear that the gifts are just that – GIFTS – and are no sign of one’s spiritual state or nearness to God, as the Corinthian church was a spiritual WRECK and yet very active in the practice of spiritual gifts. Thank God for His gifts, and walk in them, but don’t use them as a ruler to measure the depth of another’s faith.
Another thought – I was studying the book of Revelation recently, and realize how absolutely BACKWARDS we are in our understanding of what “Lukewarm” means, Scripturally. First, note that the first phrase to the Church in Laodicea from God is “I know your WORKS…” that sets our initial context for what follows – “you are neither cold nor hot.” Now, historically most Christian have always thought that this means that God would rather – if we are not going to be ‘on fire’ for Him,that we wouldn’t serve Him at all – sort of a strange idea (that God would ever WANT you to NOT serve Him) when you really consider it. I’ll tell you this much – if that IS TRUE, you can’t draw it from this verse. You see, the city of Laodicea was positioned between two rivers – one which was fed by a hot spring, and one that was fed by a mountain stream Both hot water and cold water are good for different things, and both are generally safe to drink – but near Laodicea the two rivers met and there the water was merely warm – and moderately warm water is a haven for bacteria and not fit for much of anything (except maybe a swim, as long as you don’t swallow?). Here’s the problem with the historical understanding of this verse – “Hot” and “Cold” are BOTH VERY GOOD THINGS, and have nothing to do with being ‘on fire for God’ or ‘cold towards God’. The very simple point of the Scriptural use of the phrase ‘lukewarm’ is what we would – in modern English – state as ‘good for nothing.’ This is why it is so important to keep in mind both the literary context of the verse (“I know your WORKS“) and the historical and even geographical context of this text (it’s location between ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ water sources). Anyway, so a modern translation of this would be as follows:
“I know your works: you are good for nothing. It would be GREAT if you did something of purpose, but you are good for nothing – you provide neither refreshing (cold water) or healing (hot water was used for it’s health benefits by the Laodicians), but you are worthless like warm water, which is just filled with bacteria and makes people vomit.” Read Revelation 3:14-22 with that in mind and all that follows it makes a LOT more sense. And next time you use the phrase ‘lukewarm’, remember that it has little to do with someone being a ‘wishy washy’ Christian who’s not ‘on fire’ for God, but instead represents a believer who refuses to DO what God has called him/her to do to WALK out their faith.
And lastly, I’ve been reading What Jesus demands of the World by John Piper, which has brought to mind the late James Montgomerly Boice’s EXCELLENT book Christ’s Call to Discipleship, and the fact that – Biblically – being a Christian is NOT about THINKING of Jesus as God – though that’s all fine and dandy – but about following and trusting Jesus as LORD, which means King, Owner, Master or Boss. Proclaiming Jesus as Lord, while actually MEANING IT, is far more than just accenting to a verbally stated truth: that God is revealed in the human person of Jesus. Instead it is an actual acceptance of the mastery of Jesus over us, and living that out – THIS IS KINGDOM LIVING: submitting to Jesus’ lordship.
Anyway, I just wanted to share what God has been teaching me as of late. I hope it challenges/encourages a few of you.
Let he who has ears to hear…